But we’re all very self-centered individuals, and no matter how much we remind ourselves to think of others first, everything does ultimately end up being about us, even if only in our own minds. All anyone has to do to be reminded of this self-centeredness is to watcdh the bridesmaids get ready. Sure, we helped Emily get into her dress and made sure she ate breakfast, but then it was all, “Can you fix my hair?” “Can you repaint my nails…for the seventh time?” Everyone fusses over their appearance until the very last minute as though their walk down the aisle is the one that will be most-remembered. Yes, it is a group effort, and there is sharing and cooperation, but all of it is done at one person’s gain and another’s expense. (Poor M___, who volunteered to come do hair when R___ broke her finger at the rehearsal dinner never even had time to get dressed. She was still in her pajamas fifteen minutes before the ceremony, curling G___’s hair!)
For my part, I couldn’t stop obsessing about the toast. I’d never been to a traditional wedding before, so I’d never heard one given. Moreover, a lot of people would be there who I needed to impress, not least of whom were my best friend the bride and her to-be husband, the groom. Plus, my father would undoubtedly be critical—he always was of oral presentations—and my mother and sister would be anticipating nothing short of a literary masterpiece. And this wasn’t even counting the various mutual friends E___ (the bride) and I shared who would be in the audience with their families. In short, my reputation was on the line.
After much consideration, I decided to take notes on the full speech I had written and give the toast that way. I am very opposed to reading anything straight from paper, so this was a fair compromise, and in the end it worked out pretty well. Of course afterward, when I sat down, I asked my family what they thought.
“If I have one criticism,” my father said, “it’s ‘um…um…um….’”
I blushed a little and thought to myself, well, at least I didn’t say ‘like’ too much. My sister, of course, gushed, but she would have loved anything I had said, no matter how poignant or dull. I had no real measure of how things had gone until later, when my date, M___, pulled me aside.
“I’ve been to a lot of weddings,” he told me, “so I’ve heard a lot of toasts. And I have to say, Allison, that really is one of the best ones I’ve ever heard. It was really wonderful. Really well said.”
That right there made up for all manner of criticism from my father. What lacked the most was any comment from the bride or groom, but they were busy, and I didn’t really expect them to pay me any mind, considering that this was their day; they should attend to whomever they pleased.
Soon after we ate, I made a point to mingle with my various acquaintances. I knew several people and their families on E___’s side of the room, so I wandered about to say hello. At one table, several of the mother’s called me over, so I left my friend and went to their section of the table.
“You look lovely,” one mother said. “Absolutely stunning,” another agreed. “And you just floated down that aisle,” the first one told me. “We were all stretching our necks, going ‘Where are her feet?’” They all laughed. “All the other girls were like ‘step, step, step,’” she imitated with her hand, “but you just floated!” Several other women murmured agreement. I blushed, mumbled something semi-gracious, and made my escape back to my table. When I relayed the odd exchange to my family, my mom nodded knowingly. “You did,” she told me. “You really were very graceful. It looked just like you were floating.” How about that!